MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A new ranking may make you think twice before diving into our ocean.
Shark attacks are nothing to joke about, and a recent study from the University of West Florida ranks our coast the most dangerous for a shark attack in the continental United States.
"It's very surprising, that's the first time I've ever heard that," says Michael Reed, a local resident.
The news leaves some uneasy that these underwater predators are lurking along our coast.
"It was already kind of a fear I had, so it definitely makes you think twice," Reed continues. But others weren't as shocked.
"I don't know if I would be surprised because I have seen a lot sharks," says Ammon Malksky, a Myrtle Beach local.
According to the study, more shark attacks do happen in Florida, but when you look at the swimmer-to-attack ratio, the numbers prove South Carolina is where your risk for an attack is greater, because of a shorter swimming season. The study took into account the number of people who go into the ocean along with the number of shark attacks at each spot. That's how researchers got the shark attack rate, showing where an attack is more likely to happen.
"It doesn't really deter me that much from swimming," says Reed, "but definitely be most aware of it when we're out there."
The most at-risk swimmers are those who visit Charleston area beaches, but Myrtle Beach doesn't fall too far behind. Right in our own backyard is where swimmers are at four times a greater risk of a shark attack than those swimming in the mid coast region of our state.
Researchers say South Carolina swimmers are at more risk for a shark attack because of all our river systems. That makes for prime hunting and nursing grounds for sharks.
You can read the study yourself in the Journal of Coastal Research online here: http://www.jcronline.org/doi/pdf/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-14-00027.1